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Dana White: ‘It’s hard not to call Demetrious Johnson the greatest of all time’

Demetrious Johnson
Demetrious Johnson
Esther Lin

It wasn’t that flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson defeated Wilson Reis to tie Anderson Silva’s all-time UFC record of 10 title defenses.

It was that “Mighty Mouse” put on his best performance of his career in submitting a jiu-jitsu ace who had never been submitted, on a nationally televised spot at UFC on FOX 24, after dominating two-and-a-half rounds on the feet.

And in the aftermath of watching Johnson showcase himself so well at the most critical juncture of his career, UFC president Dana White fairly glowed in the post-fight press conference at the Spring Center in Kansas City.

“So what’s crazy is, [Johnson] does what he does here tonight, right?” White told the media gathering. “And I’m doing an interview with Brazil, and I hear him ask his coach [Matt Hume], ‘what did I do wrong?’ I stopped and said, ‘hey coach, let me answer this for you — nothing.’

“He did nothing wrong. I mean he literally — first of all he looked incredible on his feet, and the punch stat numbers are ridiculous, right? Then he goes to the ground and is absolutely dominating, and then goes for the most dangerous move you can try and pull off, an armbar. And not only pulling off an armbar when you’re dominating like that, but doing it against a Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion. The guy’s an absolute freak of nature.”

Johnson is the only champion the flyweight division has ever known, and he hasn’t lost a fight since 2011. That occurred against longtime bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Since then he’s been on a tear unlike any the UFC has ever known.

Except maybe for Silva, who went 16-0 in his UFC career before losing his title to Chris Weidman at UFC 162 in 2013. Silva would have had 11 title defenses if Travis Lutter had made weight for their fight back in 2007.

Yet given the parallel of the runs and the shared record between Silva and Johnson, the conversation of who’s the best pound-for-pound fighter of all time is flaring up again. And this time Johnson’s name is being introduced into that conversation with true sincerity.

White was tempted to anoint his flyweight champion the greatest of all time, but said he might need to win one more, so that he officially breaks Silva’s record.

“Listen, he’s got one more fight, and if he breaks Anderson Silva’s record? Listen, he’s already the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and he strives to be better each time, and he gets better each time, literally destroying people,” White said.

“This kid could be considered the GOAT right now. Or, to give Anderson Silva the true respect, wait until he actually breaks the record and it’s hard not to call this guy the greatest of all time.”

If anything, the biggest challenge for the UFC is to find viable challenges for Johnson’s throne. He has defeated all the top contenders, and some of them twice. When that problem was brought up to White, he said a challenger would turn up.

“Anderson Silva had that problem too, you know what I mean?” he said.

“But I promise you, we’ll find somebody [to face him].”

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